Green Steve Performs A SWOT Analysis

personal green SWOT analysis

This week’s Change The World Wednesday was actually a suggestion I gave a little while back and involves a bit of introspection. In other words, it involves looking at yourself and assessing various components of your lifestyle to see how you might live a more sustainable life.

Here is the challenge in full:

This week, perform a SWOT analysis (modified for green living). Looking at your own green living efforts, analyze the following:

S = Strengths (your own strengths)

W = Weaknesses (again your own)

O = Opportunities (external factors that might allow you to be even greener)

T = Threats (external factors that threaten your green living)

This is primarily a business concept and one that I am very familiar with given my business A-level and degree. While some people will struggle to get any use out of such an approach, I am a thinker and always will be a thinker so I like to sit down and reflect on things on a regular basis. Otherwise I end up with a scattergun approach that does not always yield the best results.

I’ve given this a lot of thought and while it is difficult to consider every single detail, I have been able to identify the key points that I think will best help me adapt in the future.

My Strengths

  1. By far my biggest strength is this very blog; I cannot imagine a better source of motivation than writing about green living on a regular basis. It forces me to think longer and harder than I otherwise would, it pushes me to research topics down to quite a fine level of detail and it keeps me on the straight and narrow when I might be tempted to act unsustainably – I’ve got a reputation to uphold after all!

    I am also one to remember things better if I write about them rather than just read about them. By putting my thoughts down in written format, I find that I can recall facts and figures far more easily and even if I can’t, this blog acts as a personal organiser allowing me to find a particular reference or piece of information quickly.

  2. The blog has also helped me build a genuine sense of responsibility and a huge desire and willingness to learn as much as I can about the subject. Without this I might have quickly suffered burnout and returned to my old ways but once you know the sad truths about climate change and you learn more and more, the path back to your old habits is closed forever.
  3. Continuing on the mindset theme, I really like to take a holistic view of all topics because much like the Earth’s climate and atmosphere, everything is linked and what may seem like the obvious answer may not always turn out so.

    A great example is that of newly built electric cars. Before I properly researched them, I presumed like many do that they are something we should all be adopting. But after looking into it a little more I realised that the most environmentally friendly thing to do is to run your current car into the ground first. Unless you drive a particularly high polluting car, the emissions required to build a new electric car can mean they take hundreds of thousands of miles of use before breaking even in terms of environmental impact. This will change, however, once our electricity generation fuel mix moves away from coal and gas towards cleaner sources like wind and solar.

  4. I travel very little; I don’t own a car and don’t have the desire to own one. If I do travel it is mostly by train and I haven’t flown in around 18 months. I have never flown long haul.

    Luckily public transport in London is very good so I am afforded this luxury; if I lived in a more rural setting I’d probably have to walk or cycle a lot but this wouldn’t really bother me.

  5. As I showed in my post on the carbon footprint of drinks, it is not just what you put on your plate that makes a difference to your impact on the environment. Since realising that a single glass of fresh orange juice every day was making up 2.1% of my carbon footprint, I cut it out completely.

    Now I almost exclusively drink tap water with the occasional vodka and coke or pint of cider.

    Another previous post of mine showed how small carbon savings can add up when taken across whole populations and by having one more glass of water each day in place of fruit juice, fizzy pop or alcohol, millions of tonnes of CO2 would be prevented from entering the atmosphere.

  6. I don’t have any meat eating pets and while I do not want to judge or preach to those who do have them, particularly cats and dogs, I see their environmental impact as something that owners should take upon themselves to minimise.

    I guess this is more of a weakness I don’t have rather than a strength I do have.

  7. I now eat organic whenever possible after learning about the problems associated with manmade pesticides. Now I am not saying that organic farming is perfect, I have been told by a few people that organic pest control can involve chemicals and compounds that, while occurring naturally, do a fair amount of damage to the surrounding environment but unless I am convinced otherwise, organic is better than non-organic.

My Weaknesses

  1. I find that the biggest thing holding me back from taking my green lifestyle to the next level is a lack of time. I don’t only write for my blog, I also run my own business and that takes up a lot of my mental energy as much as it does my physical time.

    When I am not thinking about my business I am more inclined to let my mind rest so I don’t always go that extra mile to ensure my life is as green as possible. I do really enjoy my down time, in fact I think it is an essential part of my life so until I get some of the bigger things off my work to-do list, I’ll continue to find time a little short.

  2. Linking into my lack of time is my fondness for convenience. The problem is that when something is convenient, it is rarely the most sustainable option but I still occasionally find myself buying fully or partly prepared meals that require more packaging, more processing and generally more meat.

    I also find that when shopping, more often than not I’ll choose the closest option, particularly on weekdays when searching out the most sustainable and ethical produce is not top of my list of priorities.

  3. If I look at the 3 Rs of sustainable living – reduce, reuse, recycle – I am fairly good at the first and last of these nowadays but I struggle with the middle one. I cannot think of many times where I have reused things instead of either recycling them or binning them.
  4. Before trying out a vegetarian diet recently, I used to eat meat five times a week and this is hardly sustainable. While I am still learning, my cooking skills are slowly improving which just leaves my fussiness to overcome before I can embrace a low meat diet.


  1. The most obvious opportunity for me is to switch my electricity to one of the green energy companies such as Good Energy or Ecotricity. I’ll have to look into this further to work out which one is best to go for.

    When I moved into my new flat some 2 months ago I just took over the existing account which was with E.ON and I haven’t done the necessary research to switch yet but this should be a quick win in terms of impact on the environment.

  2. There are plenty of ways I could get more involved with the local green scene whether it is joining a community action group or volunteering my time (what little I have) for a worthy green cause.
  3. Looking further into the future, my housing situation could change from my current rental status to one of homeownership and this would allow me to do so much more in terms of making my home efficient and even self-powered.
  4. I don’t know whether or not this classes as an opportunity of my own but I could try and encourage more of my friends and family to be more environmentally responsible in their own lives. I don’t want to push things too hard and piss them off but I’m sure there are ways that I could at least educate them so that they can make their own decisions based on real facts.


  1. Given the size of my business (very small), my financial situation is not 100% secure and the amount of money I earn can vary. If this situation worsens, I may no longer be able to afford to buy organic meats or choosing more expensive travel options over cheaper alternatives (it can be cheaper to fly around the country than get the train).
  2. If my finances change for the worse then I may have to give up living by myself and, as I have experienced before, being green in a shared house can be far more challenging.
  3. I find that I suffer somewhat from peer pressure that discourages sustainable living in favour of excess. Take my Meat Free Monday routine for instance; I have friends who do the complete opposite with what they have coined Burger Monday and I while I have resisted so far, I don’t want to feel like I am missing out and will probably end up going along sooner or later.

    Similarly, I was invited on holiday earlier this year and while it was only a short haul flight, I felt I had to decline despite their enthusiasm. I would like my friends to consider a holiday in Britain but most prefer sunnier climes.

Action Plan

While there is some value in reflecting upon things like this, the real reason for the exercise is to come up with some sort of action plan. Here are the things I think I can act on based on the above:

  1. I’ll combine my willingness to investigate and learn (strength) with the practical task of switching energy supplier (opportunity) to write a blog post examining the various options open to me before actually making the switch.
  2. Educating and influencing friends and family (opportunity) is something I feel is important for us greenies to do and I’ll try to instil a similar sense of responsibility in them as I have in me (strength). This might also help tackle the peer pressure issues (threat) that I am facing now.
  3. I’ll continue to try short, manageable challenges like my vegetarian food week in order to tackle my weaknesses head on. The vegetarian challenge forced me to cook things like Spanish omelette for the first time and it has made a genuine difference to my approach to food.

    I am hoping I might be able to do something similar with my convenience bug and realise that walking for 15 minutes each way to find a better selection of organic and free range foods is no big deal.

  4. To overcome my biggest weakness, I think some planning is in order. I am not a particularly spontaneous person so setting out a time for green thinking and action is important.

    Whether it’s just a time where I can take stock and set out a few targets for the coming week or one evening to experiment with a new sustainable food such quinoa (which I have no clue about), a little bit of advanced planning is required.

So there we have it, I thought I should really make the effort with this week’s Change The World Wednesday since it was my suggestion in the first place which is why it took me almost the whole week to think about and write this.

I enjoyed the process and am glad I could come up with some genuine points of action that I can work on. Without these the exercise would be a little futile.

Now it’s your turn – what are your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats?

Steve (156 Posts)

I am chief writer and editor on Green Steve. Blogging since 2011, I like to delve into a wide number of topics to help people reduce their carbon footprint. You should follow me on Twitter here. And add me to your Google+ circles here.

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